There are many times the police would need a search warrant to go through a person’s belongings or property, but there are also times where a search and seizure warrant is not needed. This includes:
- The individual voluntarily consents to a search.
- Inspection searches, like border patrol.
- Illegal and incriminating items and contraband are in plain view.
- “Stop and frisk” situations where the police officer temporarily detains a person to search for weapons.
- Emergency situations where the search and seizure is necessary at that moment to prevent a crime from happening.
- Searches incident to a lawful arrest.
- When the police have probable cause a vehicle contains evidence of a crime.
When the police do need a warrant, they obtain this from a judge. The warrant will list the locations and/ or items that are allowed to be searched. The officers are not allowed to search anything or anywhere that is not listed in the warrant. So, if the warrant lists a home’s living room only, then the officer may not search the bedroom.
However, this does not mean the officer cannot seize something that was not listed on the warrant. For example, the officers are searching the living room for illegal drugs. While they are looking under the couch cushion, they come across weapons. The officer is allowed to seize those weapons.
Warrants are also required in order to go through a person’s cell phone and computer. These items would need to be listed on the warrant in order for the officer to search and seize.
Remember, although the police are authoritative figures, the public still has rights. People have the right to deny a search, but when the police come back with a warrant, then there is nothing the individual can do about it. If they have worries, they can consult with a lawyer.